Today is el día de la Fiesta Nacional de España, which means that because we haven’t had enough holidays this summer, we are now able to celebrate National Spain Day. Which means that everything will be closed. Which means that hardly anyone will be working and making money today. Which means that the Spanish economy will continue to languish on the edge of something or another. I am not saying that holiday’s are a bad thing…actually I like the idea of national holidays. Although in the case of today, there were some things I would have liked to accomplish, and now I will be forced (note the use of the word ‘forced’) to just go to lunch and then sit outside and ponder what to do tomorrow. So…viva España.

In order to ensure that I could be completely supportive of the National Spain Day, after all, this is the country in which I have chosen to live, I decided I should talk to a neighbour this morning, so I went down to see Rafa and Kim. When living in North America, on the national holiday everyone went on a picnic. In England, it seemed appropriate to go to a cricket pitch and be bored to tears. I am in Spain, and I wanted to get this right and appropriate. When I arrived at their piso, it was clear to me that this holiday must be very special. There was Rafa, sitting on their terrace with a pair of panelled-racing goggles, looking quite a bit like T. E. Lawrence about to get on his motorbike after all those years in the desert. How this all connects to National Spain Day was beyond me so instead we talked about the weather (which by the way is pretty flippin’ brilliant (but I would say that, wouldn’t I?)

Corcovada. No, not the National Park in Costa Rica – haven’t been there. Not even the mountain top overlooking Rio de Janiero with the huge Imagen del Cristo Redentor. The Corcovado I am referring to is a song written by Antonio Carlos Jobin in the 1960’s and it has arisen to the ‘most played’ number on my iTunes. Whether the original version by Jobim, Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, or the remake by Frank Sinatra and Jobim, the song is, in a word, wonderful. So wonderful in fact that I will let you listen to it. (I will put a link to the song at the end of this chapter because I just know you are desperately desirous of knowing what else is going on…or maybe not.)

And now, a medical update. No silly, not an update from the Conrad Murray trial, this is a Dr. JBR medical update on my wonky shoulder, which I touched on in my last letter. I did have the MRI, which is always a treat, and leaves one nearly deaf. After collecting the test results, I went off to see my doctor, who after reading the report, immediately had a smile on his face. He told me – or at least this is what it sounded like as he doesn’t speak a stitch of English – that the good news was that the pesky offending tendon was not torn into pieces, but was in fact simply buggered a bit. He also explained that somehow (the term ‘’rowing-a-boat-not-designed-to-be-rowed does come to mind) my tendon had become dislodged from the neat little groove it should reside in and was now all tangled up where it shouldn’t be. Right.

Whilst ‘’knowing’’ is always important, what I really wanted to know was what we could do about it. I was thinking I could try to find someone like Mandrake the Magician to gesture hypnotically and force the tendon back into place, but I have no idea where to look in the Paginas Amarillas (Yellow Pages). So instead I asked the doctor what we could do. Another smile appeared on his face when he said, “cortisone infustion.” (see? Even I have seen the excerpts from the Murray trial where they said that Michael Jackson was ‘infused’ with a bit too much of Propofol).

I really don’t like to get shots. Not sure why, but I just am not all that keen on having them. But, as someone who has had multiple spinal taps in my life, I figured that nothing could be worse than that, so I said okay. A few minutes later, we were sitting at his desk again and I asked how this shot would get the tendon back into its appropriate resting place. Again, the smile. This infusion wouldn’t do that. The infusion was only to try to reduce the inflammation that might (and I should have put ‘’might’’ in bold, underlined italic just to show that my mental model was pretty low of success) allow the tendon to slip back into place all by itself. (this is where you can begin to watch for pigs flying overhead that will signal success). He also told me I should come back next week for another infusion of cortisone. When I asked what we would do if the tendon still was acting naughty, his smile became even bigger when he said, “operation.” Oh good. It would be my luck that the surgeon would be Hawkeye Pierce. Will keep you posted.

So at this point, I am still not swimming nor am I rowing, which has put a serious crimp in my self-imposed exercise programme. But because I know that all the exercise I have been doing has been good for me, I have reverted back to my typical winter exercise regime and have been walking again. A lot of walking. When I was living at La Antigua (long-time readers may remember these chapters) I bought a cheap-as-chips pedometer after reading that we all should walk 10,000 steps per day. Well, that is what I have been doing. At least 10,000 steps of walking each day, not counting all the walking I do around the house. My walking is more like a forced march and I have by now plotted out various distances from Sol y Mar so I don’t have to attach the pedometer to my pocket when I go out. The little ‘click-click-click-click’ as the ball-bearing bounces back and forth recording leg movement is really annoying. The big challenge of all this walking is to do it either first thing in the morning, or early evening. The rest of the day is still consumed by our idea of autumn, which for most of you, would be a bit warmer than mid-august during a drought year.

Okay, enough for now.  Time to click on the Corcovado link and drift away…..I always do) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSgvvbCQq9c



this morning


Rafa's tribute to National Spain Day (I think)



Antonio Carlos Jobim


what my shoulder tendon feels like it has done




yesterday morning




the sunrise the day before yesterday

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011  James B. Rieley